Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun is thought to cause most melanomas – and, unless you’ve been living under a rock, the chances of being exposed to such harmful rays throughout a lifetime is high. However, it’s the “sudden intense exposure” to sunlight – mainly when it leads to sunburn – that causes melanoma, said the NHS. Sunbed usage is another culprit for skin melanoma, and the risk of disease increases if you have:
- Lots of moles or freckles
- Pale skin that burns
- Red or blonde hair
- A close family member who’s had melanoma
A biopsy most likely will occur, which involves surgically removing the suspicious mole.
If the mole is found to be cancerous, but in the early stages, then surgery is usually successful.
What to look out for
Check your moles to see if they’re:
- Getting bigger
- Changing shape
- Changing colour
- Bleeding or becoming crusty
- Itchy or sore
The ABCDE checklist
“The ABCDE checklist should help you tell the difference between a normal mole and a melanoma,” said the NHS.
E – enlargement or elevation
“A mole that changes size over time is more likely to be a melanoma,” warned the NHS.
Do check for changing or new moles all over the body, including the sole of the feet, in the mouth and in the genital area.
Protect your skin
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends people to seek shade between 10am to 4pm, avoid tanning, cover up with clothing, and wear SPF 15 or higher everyday.
It’s also advisable to examine your skin head-to-toe every month to look out for any changing marks on the body.